By Martha Ullman West
For Mary Oslund, the child’s sense of infinite possibilities has never ended. How else could she have made Childhood Star, her stunningly beautiful new piece, in which she seamlessly mixes every form of movement that has touched her life as a dancer and choreographer?
Commissioned by White Bird, for which we owe them our everlasting thanks, Star premiered at PSU’s Lincoln Performance Hall on Thursday night. (It repeats tonight and Saturday.) Like most of Oslund’s work, it is first and foremost about dancing itself, and an ongoing exploration of what the human body can accomplish aesthetically. It contains, of course, the movement vocabulary Oslund has developed over several decades – long-limbed extensions, geometric shapes, duets involving contact between dancers that initiate movement phrases – but there is also a breakthrough here: a new musicality, a softening of phrasing, a balancing of the emotional and the intellectual that make the piece achingly lovely to watch.